tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN April 26, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
processes outlined in the bill necessarily would be helpful. >> dr. lyman, i was just looking for points of agreement. we'll come back to the 20% some other hearing, all right? [ laughter ] commander mccree, navy captain -- navy commander, right? >> yes. thank you for the question. >> naval academy? my favorite rank in the navy. >> let me first agree with my fellow panel member, ms. korsnick, nrc remaining a strong, credible regulator is essential and we are committed to our efficiency principle of regulation and are making strides to become more efficient in this important area. again, the most important thing we do is assure the safety and security of the operating nuclear power plants and the materials license holders. but within that, i alluded to the three pronged strategy earlier, the multipart strategy.
i believe that is in perfect alignment. the nrc needs to make the reviews of advanced nonlight water reactors more effective, more clear and predictable. we're committed to build that framework to have it in place by 2019 so if, and, or when an application is submitted for the reactors that we can conduct those reviews in a timely, efficient and effective manner. we're on path to do that including conducting additional outreach with folks at this table as well as other stakeholders both domestically and internationally to make sure we're ready. >> all right, thanks. thank you very much, commander. mr. merrifield? >> i think -- [ inaudible ]. i think there's a consensus we can build safer -- >> you still have to be reminded to turn on your mike.
>> going forward i did want to mention there are small reactors in the pipeline that are contemplated to be built by 2023. as a country we have the capability of building more nuclear reactors by 2025. we can have savings in the building of new reactors if we replicate and learn from the experiences, and i would make a comment, you know, obviously we need to make sure the nrc has the resources necessary to protect public health, safety and security. ultimately it is the nuclear power plants that physically have to defend against potential isis threats. i would say from my view as a former commissioner those are the safest industrial facilities in the united states from a security standpoint and would well be able to defend against the kind of threats we have from that particular adversary. >> i yield back to you and then maybe you can give me some more time later. senator markey, i didn't take my earlier time so i'm catching up.
>> we'll give you an extra three minutes. >> do you have any more questions? >> if i may. just a comment, mr. chairman. dr. lyman, do you agree that granting safety exemptions to advanced reactor licensees could lead to a net reduction in overall safety? >> yes. just to elaborate on that concern, the industry is pressing for generic decisions to be made on certain policy issues including the size of emergency planning zones for advanced reactors or small modular reactors, the level of security that's needed, whether or not the containment needs to be robust against large pressure increases. and whether the number of
operators needed to staff nuclear reactor complex should be reduced. and they want these decisions to be made based on the expectation or the assertion that advanced reactors are so much safer than current reactors that we don't need these extra levels of protection. our concern is that that assertion is not always based on full enough body of evidence and experimental data to justify making those decisions. so the net reduction -- so there could be a net reduction safety if exemptions and other relaxations and safety procedures are granted based on a presumption that a new reactor is safer without a full examination of that claim. >> so, mr. chairman, laced throughout the bill as it's drafted is an assumption that there are inherent safety features built into advanced
design reactors that make it safer automatically. and that's a nice assumption to make, a nice assertion to make, but that's got to be tested. we have to make sure any one additional potentially successful safety feature interacts with the totality of the rest of the nuclear power plant in terms of them assuming the plant is safe, and we don't know that. it's an assumption built into the language of the bill. and so this just goes to the question, and it is an 80/20 question, what are the big issues that we have to deal with here? and 80% of it's going to remain is there enough money for the nrc to do their job, have enough personnel asking all the right questions, having the right supervision? the fees will be reduced. are these new technologies actually inherently safer? we have to have the capacity to determine that. will the public be able to ask questions?
the industry has always tried to get the public out, you know. but after three mile island, chernobyl, any number of other incidents, the people don't trust the experts anymore. they want to be able to ask questions, too. these power plants are going into their neighborhoods. you can't wall out whole areas of the country from these questions. these have always been the historically big questions. always been the historically big questions. from my perspective, the public input is vital and should actually be strengthened, that the new reactors should not be exempted from important safety requirements that historically have been required and that the nrc budget should not be capped. so these are the central areas. the big questions that we're going to have to answer in this legislation and it's going to keep coming back to the same questions we've been asking for the last 70 years on technology. the questions don't change.
i thank you, mr. chairman, for having this very important hearing and we know one thing that these power plants are 20, 30, 40 years old. to say that you need less health -- you have to go to the doctor more the older you get. there are more things that could go wrong, the older you get, and to reduce the budget of these aging power plants in densely populated areas all across the country and say at the same time we're going to have lower numbers of personnel, lower amounts of fees and revenue that is going in, it's totally contrary to how we think about it. issues like brittlement in nuclear power plants that are the same as cholesterol going through the veins of older americans. they cause issues that require a lot of additional attention. and to say that's not accurate for technology as it is for humans just belies the reality of what we have learned about nuclear power plants in our
country. i thank you for the courtesy, mr. chairman, of the additional time to question. >> thank you, senator markey. i'll take my last round right now and then you'll be able to finish up, senator carper. i just want to make the comment this legislation does not make assumptions. it sets forward a new process of more transparent and i think effective process for the decisions that you're talking about to be made. and it definitely does not give any exemptions to any technology. it puts the nrc directly in charge of improving and strengthening our safety. i'd actually just like to use my time to ask mr. merrifield and mrs. korsnick to respond to that very issue. >> i think the nrc will be able to continue to meet its mission of appropriately looking at these technologies and ensuring that they are assured that they are safe. i think it will do so in a way
that is risk informed such that it will be able to judge is there a need for a large emergency planning zone where the amount of radiation that is in that reactor may be much less. >> and this legislation does not choose technologies -- >> it does not. >> it does not define standards? >> it does not. those tools remain with the nrc. the other point i would make it is not as if these technologies are entirely new. indeed most of the advanced reactor technologies that are being brought forward today were originally developed by the atomic energy commission and d.o.e. during the 1950s and 1960s so there is a significant amount of research information available to demonstrate the safety of these reactors today and justify the nrc making changes which would more appropriately tailor their regulations for advanced reactor technologies fully consistent with public health and safety. >> thank you. mrs. korsnick? >> yes, thank you, senator. a couple of comments.
clearly the industry and the folks representing advanced reactors, none of us are interested in reducing safety margins. the conversation and the structure in this bill that provides a licensing process really informs that licensing process that these safety margins might, in fact, be met in a new and different way with this innovative technology and that needs to be acknowledged through the licensing process. so we're not in any way lowering the bar, lowering the standard. quite frankly, we're meeting, maybe even exceeding the standard just in a new way. the other item i wanted to mention, and i appreciate senator markey is not here, but the mandatory hearings that were mentioned earlier, these are uncontested hearings. these are uncontested hearings. that means they do not participate. these are held between the commission and the staff on construction permit and combined license application. it's not cutting the public out, if you will, of any conversation. we are very interested in the public being involved and dialogue. >> if there's any public
interest, there can be a -- the bill allows for a hearing to be held in that -- >> absolutely. there's many ways that the public can request a hearing on an application and be involved. this doesn't take away any of the public engagement involvement. i just wanted to make clear. i felt like a different impression was left, in fact, with the committee. >> thank you very much. senator carver? >> thank you. you're doing a great job. >> thank you. >> look forward to the day when you chair this more often. >> thank you, of course. >> unless, of course, i could be the chairman. then we could -- [ laughter ] >> we may have to negotiate. >> in the meantime i'll be your wing man, happily. i have an old car. in 2001 i stepped down as governor and became a senator, my older son wanted to buy a new car. we drove mustangs and corvettes. we now drive a town and chrysler mini van.
he said it was bait and switch. we took the train back last night in my 2001 chrysler mini van. along the way the odometer went across 419,000 miles. now when i first got my mini van there was a warranty cost, things that needed to be fixed from the factory. we had a warranty that paid for that stuff. for a long period of time, man, we almost spent no money on it. i would wash it every two weeks and change the oil. in recent years, to be honest with you, i spent more and more money on my mini van. we have all of these old nuclear power plants that are out there. my guess is when they first came online there were some problems, sort of like the warranty stuff. we dealt with them like ed markey says, you get old and you spend more money. i will say this about my mini van, i went out and started it in southern delaware after a meeting. it wouldn't start.
battery wouldn't so the guy came from aaa. he said, you need a new battery. i said, okay. he said, we have a three year and a six year. which would you prefer? i said the six year. some people say that is confidence. that is optimism. i'm mr. glass half full. i'm trying to figure out if i'm a utility and i'm paying 90% of the costs running nrc and i'm seeing the nrc having fewer reactors to monitor, we're not adding, building four new ones but not a huge increase, why do you continue -- why does the nrc continue to need all of this money? you've knocked your budget down by $5 million. that's not a whole lot. monitoring it, you have, as i understand it, closures.
sometimes you think -- if i went to a ford explorer, i was going to retire it, decommission it. in one minute they squashed my car, my explorer. that was it. they gave me a check. it doesn't work that way with these nuclear power plants. it's an expensive process to decommission them. i guess that's a cost for you. fukushima, all of these recommendations from fukushima that we're implementing. we're making some progress there. we had a hearing a week or two ago that said we're not there yet. we also have a lot of ideas. my sense is what you're asking for in the budget is not unreasonable, but i'm sitting here realizing how do we get better results and save some money.
i say you have to sharper your pencils a little bit more. figure out how to safe some money if you expect us to pay through the nose. react to that for me if you will. >> senator, thank you for that. i appreciate the analogy to your mini van, of course. >> don't ever tell my wife i bought a six year battery. she'd die. >> a nuclear power plant is much more complex, but to your point, the nrc is reducing its costs. we're committed to do so. if you look at the trend from 2014, we're reducing our costs. our fiscal '17 request is below. we have a baselining and that will allow us to reduce fiscal '17 by another 30. significant reductions.
we're still not done. lowering our costs will translate to user fes to this industry that we regulate. while there may be a delay or reaction, if you would, there is a commitment to reducing our fees. it is tangible. i believe the industry will recognize those reduced costs. >> one more last quick question. talking about work force and that sort of thing. the budget is reduced in the future to reduce the workload. just take a minute to talk about the ramification of cutting nuclear engineers today who might arguably be needed for tomorrow's nuclear -- advanced nuclear applications. >> senator, thank you. one more significant challenge is i think any organization experiences, one that's human capital dependent, dependent on people to get work done. that's certainly nrc. is to manage cost reductions, reductions in staffing that you maintain your core capability to fulfill your mission.
ours is the safety and security. we're working very closely as a leadership team using a strategic work force plan to make sure that the work that we have now, the work that we predict in the future will have the right people and the right place at the right time with the right skills. and, again, that's what our commitment is and we're working very closely to get that done, including nuclear engineers who are just one capability, one competence that we need within the nrc. >> all right. thanks. >> senator, can i make a comment about -- >> real short because we're out of time. >> 73 of the nuclear power plants in the united states have sought and received an extension to run for 60 years. that has allowed the utilities to invest large amounts of money to make sure that those plants are up to date and fully meet the safety requirements. like your mini van, they have been making a lot of investments along the way to make sure those are useful similar the way the u.s. air force with the 1950s
b-52s currently deployed in the middle east are in shape to do their mission, nuclear power plants are here in the u.s. >> i want to make sure i get my six year's worth out of that battery. >> for the record, that would be 83 licenses. >> thank you. >> 11 under review, 6 expected to come in. nrc's a bit more successful than that with -- >> thank you for that clarification. thank you all for being with us today. let's continue to look at that 80% and see if we can build on that. >> thank you, senator carper and i do appreciate your constant focus on trying to find solutions and get to that 80%. i agree with it. dr. lyman, i indicated i'd give you a chance. i think you got your chance to make your comments. do you feel you have not fully had that opportunity. >> i think we've heard enough from him. >> go ahead.
>> very short time to explain why we think some of the language in the bill could potentially be interpreted as a reduction in safety standards. that primarily has to do with the language, risk in foreign performance base. my experience with the nrc and its attempts to perform what's called risk informed regulation often implies trying to justify what's called a reduction of unnecessary conservatism. and unnecessary conservatism means different things to different people. so our concern is that this bill would put pressure on the nrc to develop processes that would essentially force them to accept lesser standards for the experimental data for the analytical work that's needed to support an advanced reactor application. in particular, if you have designs that are based just on paper studies of the risk
analyses, do not have operational data to support the -- to actually validate those studies, so there's a concern that over reliance on - overreliance on, or overconfidence in paper studies that are insufficiently validated to meet, let's say, less restrictive safety criteria could lead to an overall reduction of safety so that's our concern. also, on the question of innovation now that it came up, mr. merryfield pointed out many of the reactor types that have been -- that are currently being considered were developed by the atomic energy commission decades ago and we agree with that. actually, there's less innovation today than meets the eye, and i would say -- i would submit that that argument could also be used, say, at the nrc, as considerable expertise and experience in those reactor types and so the -- we think the
concern that the nrc is not ready to license what are reactors is somewhat exaggerated for that very reason because for the most part, these are old technologies. >> thank you. if i may respond just quickly, when i was on the commission, we did create about $5 million in funding to better understand reactors but salt reactors, some of the others being proposed are csignificantly different from what the nrc has experience so they do need additional funding and resources to bridge that gap. >> all right. thank you. i know we opened up issues here everybody would like to jump into more, i would, too, but i believe we just had a vote called or will shortly have a vote called so we're going to have to wrap this up. i do want to remind all of the witnesses that senator whitehead had asked you to each respond -- whitehouse -- asked you each to
respond in writing to this question about the safety implications of the legislation on the nrc's capacity to protect safety and its regulatory structure. and i would encourage you to do that and to respond to these issues. each of the senators may have further questions and it's customary for them to submit those in writing and since this legislative hearing -- this is a legislative hearing and we expect committee action on senate bills 2795 next week, i'm asking our senators and committee staff to provide those questions regarding this bill to the majority office by 4:00 p.m. tomorrow on friday. and i'm asking the witnesses to be sure to respond in writing by 5:00 p.m. on april 25th. monday april 25th. i know that's short time but we're going to be moving ahead, so if you can, respond to these questions quickly, we would appreciate it. all questions for the record regarding the general topic of advanced reactors will be due within the usual two-week deadline. and to our witnesses, i again want to thank you all for coming
results from today's primaries in connecticut, delaware, maryland, pennsylvania, and rhode island will be part of our campaign 2016 coverage tonight. we'll also hear from the candidates and we'll take your phone calls and get reactions on facebook and twitter. it all starts tonight live at 8:30 eastern on c-span. madam secretary, we proudly give 72 of our delegate votes to the next of the united states. ♪ ♪
saturday, president obama attends his final white house correspondents' dinner, one of the biggest social events in washington each year. the president will deliver remarks and this year features the nightly show host, larry wilmore. live coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span with guest arrivals and the dinner starts later in the evening. treasury secretary jack lew now talking about the united states leadership role in the world and the dollar and the global economy. he was at the council on foreign relations earlier this month.
>> thank you all for being here this morning. my name is sebastian mallaby. i work here at the come, so i welcome you all today. the series on international economics. i want to welcome our cfr members in the nation and around the world participating in this meeting through live stream. i think you know this is going to be on the record. there's an introduction and description of mr. -- of secretary lew i think in your pa packets but just to say he was sworn as the treasury secretary in 2013. before that he ran the omb. one thing i remember being relevant to what he's going to be discussing today, is before that in the early obama administration when he was z deputy secretary of state and running the first ever sort of
deep look at all the tools of development assistance across the u.s. government. the development review. shows that his involvement in these questions, the interaction between economics and statecraft is rather extensive. so i'm going to welcome secretary lew up to the podium and he's going to speak for a bit and then we're going to have a conversation. thank you. >> thanks very much, sebastian, for that introduction, and for your leadership at the council. this is a remarkable institution with long history of intellectual influence on america's foreign policy and as always, it's an honor to be here today. america's leadership in the global economy is something we all care deeply about. i want to thank gideon and his foreign affairs team for publishing my essay on this topic. the piece opens with a story
about the difficulty of getting imb quota reform through congress. and it asks why was it so hard? why was it so hard and take five years to win approval at the end of last year? the imf has been a symbol of u.s. leadership since its birth at the end of world war ii. it provided the underlying architecture of a global economic system that helped produce remarkable gains over the past 70-plus years. american leadership was essential to the creation of that system and the progress that it's yielded. yet even though it's supported the wellbeing of our citizens and helped the united states advance our values and foreign policy objectives, america's global economic leadership has not always been popular here at the home. in the case of imf quota reform, took five years to on vince congre congress to act. many questioned america's
leadership position in the global economy. the ultimate passage of imf reform was pivotal. needed to sustain our economic leadership and adapt it to the challenges of our time. we know that the global landscape of the next century will be very different than that of the post-war era. and if we wanted it to work for the american people, we need to embrace new players on the global economic stage and make sure that they meet the standards of the system we created and that we have a strong say in any new standards. the worst possible outcome would be to step away from our leadership role and let others fill in behind us. making the case for global engagement is a responsibility we all share. we must make the choices necessary to ensure both the future of the international architecture we built and america's position in it. over the last year the obama administration has made significant progress advancing u.s. leadership in the global economy. we workedh